Last year, Seattle and Philadelphia educators organized Black Lives Matter actions in their schools. This year, educators in many more cities, including New York, Chicago, Boston, D.C., and Baltimore, are joining efforts to organize a Black Lives Matter Week of Action during the week of February 5th through 9th. The Week of Action builds on the momentum of the national Black Lives Matter movement to promote a set of local and national demands focused on improving the school experience for students of color. The goals of Black Lives Matter Week of Action in Schools are to spark an ongoing movement of critical reflection and honest conversation in school communities and to inspire all people to engage with critical issues of racial justice.
Montclair’s Black Lives Matter Week of Action in Schools has been organized by Teachers Undoing Racism Now (TURN!), which was created by Montclair educators as a continuation of the work begun in the Undoing Racism workshops sponsored the Montclair School District for all teachers and staff. Over the past year, TURN has grown to include students and community members and welcomes new members.
Each day, Montclair’s Week of Action will explore a theme related to racism. During the day, teachers will implement lessons created by TURN for the Black Lives Matter Week of Action. In the evening, there will be events for educators, students, and community members. Montclair’s daily themes are the following:
Monday, February 5th: The Racial History of Montclair
Tuesday, February 6th: The School-to-Prison Pipeline/Prison Industrial Complex
Wednesday, February 7th: Getting Real About Education in Montclair
Thursday, February 8th: Students Speak, Teachers Listen
Friday, February 9th: Voices of Black Women
Rodney Jackson, a teacher at Renaissance Middle School and a TURN organizer, said of the upcoming week of action, “It’s essential for the Montclair School District to continue on the path of racial justice. Decreasing school suspension of black students, hiring and retaining black teachers, as well as the implementation and awareness of the Amistad Law, are steps in the direction of creating better and more inclusive schools.”
In each city, 13 guiding principles of the Black Lives Matter movement will be highlighted as a means of challenging the insidious legacy of institutionalized racism and oppression that has plagued American society since its founding. There will be events, both online, and in each city, throughout the week, as well as curriculum resources for lesson plans and activities.
The national demands include:
End Zero Tolerance. Focus our Schools on Restorative Justice.
Black History/Ethnic Studies Mandated K-12.
Black Teacher Pushout Ends Now! Hire More Black Teachers in our Schools.
Local Montclair demands can be found in TURN’s statement on the event, and include:
- End racial disparities in discipline, and implement restorative practices.
- Improve awareness and implementation of the Amistad law’s black history mandate.
- Increased hiring and improved retention of Black teachers.